What is a Browser Exploit?

What does a browser exploit do? How can users protect themselves from browser exploits?

In cybersecurity, an exploit is a piece of code that utilizes vulnerabilities in computer software or hardware in order to perform malicious actions. These actions may include gaining control of a device, infiltrating a network, or launching some form of cyber attack. A browser exploit is a type of exploit that takes advantage of a web browser vulnerability in order to breach web browser security.

Web browsers provide an ideal entry point for hackers to gain access to devices, due to their direct interface with the Internet. If a user is using a web browser with a particular vulnerability, and visits a malicious or compromised site, a browser exploit could take advantage of the browser vulnerability to send malicious code to the browser, with the aim of accessing personal information, delivering malware or ransomware to the endpoint, and from there moving laterally to infiltrate an entire network.

Protect users from browser exploits, even when they are working remotely.

Stop Browser Exploits

To prevent a browser exploit, a number of steps should be taken:

Install firewall software and other security software

Firewall software acts as an extra barrier between the Internet and the web browser, which can block suspicious websites, and catch known threats before they breach web security. Anti-virus software can also detect some web-based threats. However, these detection-based solutions usually cannot detect unknown and zero-day threats.

Keep all software up to date

Web browser software, and any applications that access the web, must be kept up to date. This is because when a vulnerability in software is found, the software vendor often releases a patch to fix the issue causing it, so that browser exploits relying on the vulnerability cannot cause any harm. Regularly updating software provides protection against more recent exploits.

Be careful when browsing the web, especially when downloading files

If a website looks suspicious, it probably is. Keep to well-known URLs and safe websites. It’s very important that users only download files from trusted sources, especially when it comes to downloading software applications or browser extensions, which could easily be infected with an exploit. Ideally, organizations should deploy content disarm and reconstruction (CDR) solutions to identify and remove malicious content in attachments.

Don’t click on suspicious attachments or links in emails

Social engineering techniques, such as phishing, are often used to trick users into opening email attachments or links to suspicious websites. These emails often look legitimate, so it’s important to verify that an email is truly genuine before clicking on any links or downloading attachments.

Use a more secure browser, or remote browser isolation

While every browser has vulnerabilities from time-to-time, some are worse than others. For example, especially in the past, Internet Explorer was known for having a long response time from when vulnerabilities were discovered to when a patch was released, leaving its users vulnerable to browser exploits for a long period of time. Alternatives, such as Chrome and Firefox, tend to be faster to fix security flaws.

To avoid the risk of browser exploits altogether, a remote browser isolation solution should be used. With this solution in place, when a user browses the web, all active code from the website visited is run in a virtual browser located in a container in the cloud, away from the user’s computer. The user interacts as usual via their regular browser with a clean stream of rendering data, but without any risk of malware infection. Remote browser isolation solutions often include CDR to ensure secure file downloads as well.

Learn About Remote Browser Isolation

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